I don’t know about you, but I have a lot going on these days. I’m married, work 50+ hours a week as a Communications Director for a Member of Congress, attend church on Sundays and Wednesdays, do my personal devotions every day, cook, clean, vacuum, maintain some sort of social life, and somewhere in there I try to blog. I may not know you, but I’m willing to bet your life is equally as hectic, just filled with different things. I’m also not trying to wear my busyness as a badge of honor; if anything, it’s overwhelming. And this is why I can’t live without my to-do lists.
I’ve always loved “to-do” lists and use them in my professional and personal life. When Congress is in session there is so much going on around me that my list helps me feel grounded. Every day I list the tasks I need to finish and try to put them in order of importance. If I’m waiting for approval from someone or need to follow up on an email – I make note of that too. Everyday before I leave work I update my to-do list to give me a head start the next day. This is especially after a weekend where I come back in and am trying to remember what the heck I was working on last Friday.
I also use lists at home. Every Friday night I list what I hope to accomplish that weekend. Usually it reads like this: laundry, vacuum all floors, clean the bathroom, fix the needle on my sewing machine, (I’m probably making myself sound older here than I actually am), exercise, work on my blog. I don’t always finish everything, and that’s okay. Sometimes the extra chores I try to tackle Monday or Tuesday (we’ll see). And if I don’t get to them that week, well, they go to the top of the following weekend’s list.
Lastly, but perhaps most important, I use lists to make sure I am keeping up with my life goals, and accomplishing them. Many of us have seen the Post-It commercial of the girl trying out for the basketball team who keeps jumping towards her goals a little bit more each day. I watched that commercial about a dozen times before I heard the line, “When you write something down, you’re 42 percent more likely to make it happen.” Now, I can’t verify those claims but it sure sounded inspiring to me. And I know it to be pretty true with my goals: the ones I write down I work harder at accomplishing.
My life goals right now include learning more about God’s character (because I believe this is the answer to many of life’s questions), practicing hospitable, looking for opportunities to be more generous, and becoming a published writer. I keep these simple because I only write them down after much prayer and asking God whether I should keep praying over them or toss them out the window. Thankfully, these have remained on the list.
There are so many benefits to writing out our to-do lists or life goals. As I mentioned, for me it keeps me grounded but here are a few more reasons that you might also find helpful.
1. So you don’t forget your great idea or to do something.
How often do we have the best idea ever – the one that is going to make us millions – and then forget what it was two hours later when we finally get back to that thought. Or, how many appointments have you missed because you forgot to write it down and plumb forgot? Guilty as charged here. If you write something down you won’t forget to do it, or that great idea. If you feel like you might lose the piece of paper it’s written on, make a note on your phone and set a reminder.
2. Makes you accountable to the task.
Something powerful happens when we write things down, they become concrete in our minds. For me I think that little last will silently nag me until I finish it, and let tell you, that’s a great motivator. For some of you seeing your idea on paper will spur you to take action in a way you hadn’t thought about before.
3. Helps you prioritize what is important in your life, as well as schedule your day (or life!) to best accomplish your tasks.
When I don’t write things down I usually try to accomplish whatever is in front of my face, or, I find easiest in the moment. But when I make a list a number them by importance it forces me to rework my time to best address each item when it needs to be addressed. It’s like your own personal assistant built into a list.
4. Relieves stress.
Next time you can’t sleep because your mind is running in a million ways try this: write down the tasks you have to complete the NEXT day to address these issues. Or, write down what is stressing you out, quickly pray over each item giving to God, and turn over and try to sleep again. You will be so surprised at how well this small exercise works.
5.Let’s you track progress.
This is huge! I also like to do this with prayer requests so I can go back and remember how faithful God is in answering prayers. Although no where compared to God, going back and looking at what you’ve accomplished and probably forgotten about is a huge confidence booster.
No matter what you do – whether you’re a teacher, engineer, stay-at-home mom, or communications director – you might want to consider creating a daily or even weekly “to-do” list too. Also,I can’t tell you how immensely satisfying it is to finish an item and cross it off that list.
What’s on your list this week?
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